If you are homeless, or threatened with homelessness, and you are not able to find accommodation then your local Council may have a duty to help you. How much help you will get will depend on your personal circumstances.
We understand the anxiety and stress that people facing homelessness are experiencing and will provide compassionate support and professional advice to help you to understand the complicated homelessness rules and to obtain the help to which you are entitled.
In the first instance if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness you should go to the Council and tell them that you want to make a homeless application. The Council should then make a decision about what help it is required to provide to you.
If you are still housed then the Council may have what is known as the ‘Prevention Duty’ towards you. This is a duty to prevent you from becoming homeless. This might include negotiating with your current landlord for you to stay or helping you find alternative accommodation before you become homeless.
If you are homeless or going to be made homeless imminently and there is nothing that can be done to help you keep your home, the Council may have what is known as the ‘Relief Duty’. This is a duty to take reasonable steps to assist you in finding accommodation and lasts for a period of 8 weeks. At the end of the 8 week period if you have not been accommodated the Council will need to make a decision as to what further duties it owes to you.
If you are homeless and the Council has reason to believe that you are in priority need (ie that you are vulnerable in significant way) then it will need to accommodate you immediately while it decides what duty it has to help you.
Many of the decisions a Council will make about the duty owed to a homeless applicant are subject to a right of review. If you have received any of the following decisions then you can contact us and we can see if we can help you to get the decision changed:
- A decision that you are not in priority need;
- A decision that you made yourself “intentionally homeless”;
- A decision that you are not eligible for assistance due to your immigration status;
- A decision that a duty owed to you has ended.
It is important that you get help urgently as you will usually only have 21 days to request a review.
If the Council does agree to help you and you are offered accommodation which you do not think is suitable for you (eg because of where it is or something to do with the accommodation itself) then you should not refuse the offer without seeking advice. We may be able to help you with a review of the suitability of the accommodation.
We will support you through the review process including gathering evidence from relevant third parties, such as your GP, and making detailed representations to the Council.
At the end of the review process if the Council makes a decision to uphold its original negative decision then it may be possible to appeal the decision to the County Court. We will advise you as to whether you have a strong enough case to bring an appeal and if you do have a strong enough case we will assist you throughout the appeal process.
If the Council refuses to give you any assistance at all then we may be able to help you in applying for a Judicial Review. We will first write to the Council to notify them of how and why we believe they are behaving unlawfully and if accommodation is still not provided we will consider whether your case is strong enough to take to the High Court. We will first need to obtain advice from a specialist barrister to ensure you have a strong enough case. We will then apply for Legal Aid funding on your behalf.
We hold a contract with the Legal Aid Agency to provide Legal Aid to those who are homelessness or threatened with homelessness. This funding is subject to strict eligibility criteria, both in terms of your income and the merits of the case. Check your financial eligibility here